Sleepy Hollow: The Weeping Lady

Posted on October 21, 2014

Sleepy-Hollow-Season-2-Episode-5-Television-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOTom Mison and Heather Lind in FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow”

 

Love is in the air around Sleepy Hollow, it seems.

Suddenly, random people are throwing themselves at our heroes, as if the writers of the show were saying “Not so fast, shippers!” This being Sleepy Hollow, that means one of them’s a 200-year-old ghost with boundary issues and a quite reasonable crush on Ichabod who kills another lady who’s got a crush on Ichabod all because two centuries ago, she found out Katrina had a crush on Ichabod.

That Ichabod, he’s spitting out some serious pheromones.

In addition, Hawley Sawyer-Solo, it appears, is not going to be a one-off or occasional character. Worse, he’s almost certainly going to drive yet another wedge between the Mills sisters because one of them likes him  –  like, like-likes him – but he only likes her instead of like-likes her because he really like-like’s the other sister, who doesn’t like-like him ,or even like him, at all.

Love in Sleepy Hollow, it’s complicated.

Continuing its tradition of taking folk tales and giving them a Revolutionary War twist, the episode offers up a somewhat different take on La Llorona, the Mexican folk tale of the Weeping Lady. To be honest, this didn’t quite sit right with us. With the Pied Piper story, they were quite open about its German origins, but the Weeping Lady not only got a full re-write that owes practically nothing to her origins, but it stripped her completely of her cultural background as well. We kept waiting to hear about a Mexican amulet or something that it would at least allow them to tip their hat to the cultural tradition they were bastardizing. Instead, it played out as an 18th Century version of Single White English Female, with Ichabod’s formerly betrothed letting her jealousy of Katrina consume her. Which, to be honest, also had us vaguely annoyed. Knowing that the show was doing a take on La Llorona, we wrongly assumed (and we realize one should never assume with a show like this) that they were going to take the opportunity to open this world up a bit; to perhaps expand this apocalyptic war past the boundaries of the woods behind Sleepy Hollow. Instead, it was another of Henry’s plans against his own parents, using their own histories against them. Thematically and narratively consistent, but it felt like a missed opportunity to do something other than another folk tale populated solely by Northern Europeans. Then again, maybe that’s why the cast is so quietly diverse; because the creators know the mythology surrounding the story is purely white European. Something to ponder, anyway. It would be nice to get some slave folk tales into the mix at some point, especially with the Mills family’s history.

We got over our disappointment fairly quickly, in part because this was yet another charmingly fun episode and in part because it did something we’ve been dying for the show to do since episode one: it cast serious doubts on exactly who Katrina is. Maybe it’s because we don’t love Katia Winter’s portrayal or the breathy way she always says “hhIchhabawhhdhhh” or the fact that her hair is blow-dried, pressed, and has hair product in it, which makes us all throw-pillow rippy in silent rage. Whatever the reason, we never really bought her version of the story and her intentions within it. There are way too many blank pages and Ich has always been way too moony over her to see who she really is. Not that we’re claiming she’s pure evil. If she was, Henry wouldn’t have to work so hard to … do whatever it is Moloch wants him to do. The word “vessel” was used, so we wonder if she has to bear some sort of demon child at some point. She wouldn’t be the first witch asked to. No, she’s probably not evil per se, but she’s got enough darkness in her that Moloch thinks she can be exploited. In short: We never trusted that witch.

In other news, as we said, the attractiveness of the two leads suddenly became a major point, as it should. We thought Caroline, the poor victim at the start of the episode, was a genuinely sweet, well-drawn character who would have made a really nice addition to the cast. Major kudos to the writers and the actress, because it’s nearly impossible to make a red shirt someone worth mourning. Tom Mison brought every atom of his considerable charm to their scenes together, which made the mourning scenes later that much more poignant. It wasn’t mentioned, but we didn’t think it was a coincidence that he befriended this red-head who likes to dress up in Colonial fashion. He was looking for a Katrina substitute without the attraction; someone he could play house with when he got homesick. Ich’s colonial re-enactment hobby doesn’t get mentioned enough. It’s a nice little touch to the character. The show requires that almost all of the culture shock that comes with being propelled forward 200 years has to be hand-waved away. If it was anything like realistic, Ichabod probably would still be in some form of catatonic shock after waking up. But he needs to use phones, computers and cars on the regular, so he has to be made almost superhumanly flexible. The only concession to any difficulties he has acclimating are the at-least-once-per-episode Ichabod meltdowns over something he finds unconscionable about the 21st Century (like emojis, those “grimacing lemon caricatures”) and the occasional references to his colonial re-enactment hobby. The use of both, one funny and one poignant, is a beautifully economical way to tip the hat to Ichabod’s difficulties without letting them weigh the story down.

As for the other lovebirds in the story,  Mary, the weeping lady’s performance and character were too high-strung and stereotypical to be all that interesting, although the design work on the Weeping Lady was gorgeously creepy. Hawley clearly has a thing for Abbie, which wasn’t exactly hard to predict, although his turn this week seems a little abrupt. One thing we found really interesting was his impatience with Ichabod for not immediately giving the drowned Abbie CPR and mouth-to-mouth. It’s the first time the show’s really made the point that Ichabod, because of all the things he doesn’t know, isn’t always the best partner to have. Abbie would have died in his arms if Hawley hadn’t been there. Nothing was made of it by any of the characters, but it was really notable and a little painful to watch.

But no love connections were made this episode, despite all the sudden attractions popping up left and right. In the end, Ichabod pledged his troth to one person: his partner (but not his life partner, of course):

“Our duty must be to one another, before anything; before anyone.”

Which is all well and good, but you just know that’s going to be tested.

 

[Photo Credit: Brownie Harris/FOX]

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